How do you celebrate a 100th birthday? If you're an institution as important and prestigious as Rice University, you're going to need a lot more than a shout-out from Willard Scott and a two-alarm fire on a giant cake.
The oldest university in Houston officially opened on Oct. 12, 1912, and the year-long Centennial celebration begins in earnest today and lasts throughout a weekend packed with over 50 cultural, educational and social events for students, alumni and community members alike.
The Rice website has an interactive calendar of centennial happenings, sorted by type and by audience, but here are a few of the highlights:
- The Centennial Lecture Series kicks off today at 3 p.m. with a presentation by J. Craig Venter, one of the sequencers of the human genome. Other notable speakers throughout the weekend include architect Rem Koolhaas (Thursday, 10 a.m.) and physicist Shirley Ann Jackson (Thursday, 3 p.m.) as well as a lecture by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on Oct. 17.
- On Thursday night, the Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra will perform the world premiere of William Bolcom's Ninth Symphony, commissioned by Rice to celebrate 100 years. The concert will also include works by Rachmaninoff (with Professor of Piano Jon Kimura Parker as soloist) and Jean Sibelius.
- Want to experience the brilliance and passion of Rice University professors without the tuition? Stop by the faculty mini-lectures on Friday at 4 p.m., when six distinguished professors give 5-minute presentations on subjects that inspire them. Stick around campus for a plethora of open air receptions and social events for students and alumni.
- Nothing says "crazy party" like a statue dedication, but in addition to the unveiling of a new statue of first Rice president Edgar Odell Lovett at at 10:30 a.m., interested parties can see even more campus art and architecture on centennial walking tours, which depart from Brochstein Pavilion every 15 minutes from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
- The main event of the weekend is Rice's homecoming football game on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., with the Owls taking on UT-San Antonio. It's preceded on Saturday by an alumni barbecue and tailgating tents near the stadium featuring entertainment including music and moonwalks.
- On Saturday night in Rice's historic academic quadrangle, the university will present a mysterious "sound and light show" dubbed Spectacle, with three 20-minute showings for ticketed guests only at 8:45, 9:45 and 10:45 p.m.